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31.7.16

How to Squirrel Proof Your Garden

Did you know that squirrels are very intelligent creatures? They’ll often trick potential thieves by conducting fake burials of food, and will communicate with each other using their tails as a signalling device. But, for all that they’re cute and interesting, they’ll wreak havoc on a garden given half a chance!


Squirrels dig up bulbs, steal food and nuts from feeders and dine on the eggs in birds’ nests. So, what can you do if you want to stop them from helping themselves to whatever they want? Here are a few ways you can squirrel proof your garden.


First, buy a squirrel proof feeder
There are only two reasons squirrels will come to your garden: they’re looking for food or shelter. Of course, you can’t very well fell every tree or stop feeding your birds, but you can adapt your current approach so that the squirrels are deterred from visiting you so frequently.


Stop feeding birds using the ground and tables, and instead invest in a squirrel proof bird feeder. Squirrel proof feeders work by ‘baffling’ the squirrel, using shapes that squirrels have difficulty crossing and therefore they can’t access the food inside it.


Other feeders are enclosed by a type of mesh that is too fine for squirrels to get their claws into, and some feeders are weight-activated so that they shut when anything as heavy as a squirrel lands on it.


Decide which one to buy by thinking about what kind of birds you want to cater for in your garden, as this will determine which model of squirrel-proof bird feeder is right for you.  


Add a sprinkling of chilli powder
Adding chilli powder is a trick suggested by the RSPB, so why not try thoroughly coating the bird feed in chilli powder before putting it outside? Birds don’t particularly mind the extra kick, but squirrels will quickly go elsewhere once you’ve set their taste buds tingling. You could also use curry powder, cayenne pepper or tabasco – whatever’s in your store cupboard.


Use bloodmeal
Bloodmeal is blood from other animals that has been dried and ground into a powder, and you can buy it online or from garden centres. When sprinkled around your garden it will ward off squirrels and other unwanted visitors (such as rabbits or neighbourhood cats) as the smell of blood frightens them enough to steer clear of your back yard. However, remember that bloodmeal is a very potent fertiliser.


Cover your flowers and vegetable patch with chicken wire
In the same way you’re trying to keep birds out of your vegetable patch by adding a cage of wire over the top, do the same for squirrels. They’re crafty, so you’ll need to make sure the wire is sufficiently dense and that you weigh it down to the ground too – perhaps securing it with pegs to make sure they’re not able to burrow in.


Get a cat or a dog
Some people recommend getting a cat or a dog to help deter squirrels from your garden, and it’s likely to work if you’re happy to ward off lots of other types of wildlife at the same time. If squirrels are a real problem for you, it might be worth considering recruiting a four legged friend to help you out.


Hang scarers
Finally, you could hang streamers, ribbons and balloons in your garden to scare away squirrels. In the same way that scarecrows deter birds from feasting in fields, objects that move in the wind will scare away squirrels: particularly if you draw a pair of eyes on to the balloons.





26.7.16

#singlelife 002 | The Honeytrap

I was in two minds as to whether or not to write this. But I feel like I haven't given my blog my attention at all since I've been single and I sometimes worry if this is why I am struggling mentally a lot.

I've been worried about writing about dating and single life because a lot of the blogs I follow are this family unit and I feel like I'm an outsider.
Separation and divorce certainly changes your circle and you realise that people don't know how to be with you.
My circumstances changed, I didn't. So it hurts.

As well as losing people there are others who spring up out of nowhere. Others who either want gossip, or are of the opposite sex and think that all of a sudden they can offer you some fun.
This of course isn't too bad if you are both single, if you are both aware of what is going on, and neither of you gets hurt etc etc. But when those people, those men, are in relationships it's quite offensive, and laughable.

At least with a single man you know that there is the potential of it maybe going somewhere. You know that someone getting hurt is limiting as long as you both know where you each stand. It's easy.

When that other person has a partner, there is a whole other level of consideration.
First of all, it being wrong. Full stop.
But in terms of people getting hurt, it ramps up quite high.

And when I say laughable, this is because these men will claim that their relationships are fine and they just want some fun, or that they are bored and will "split any day".
And it makes me wonder how they can think to put that effort, that fun, towards someone else and to potentially ruin what they have with this person they claim to love.
I wonder if the person they claim to love is even aware of them being unhappy.

If there is one thing I learnt from my separation and divorce it's that honesty is key. If you're not happy talk about it, try to work it out and if it gets to the point where you think temptation is a possibility then you need to take that brave step and walk away.

I was surprised at the men who approached me.
One of which saw me at work, stood and chatted and was suggestive, flirted and said we should meet up for a drink. He walked away telling me to add him on Facebook which I did, to then see a photo of his girlfriend.
When I mentioned this to him he said he simply "forgot" when he was talking to me.

The other who jokingly flirted on social media, privately of course, saw me at work (there's a little theme there) a couple of times, and again was suggestive. Totally bypassing the fact he has a girlfriend.

And then there was the one who kept sending "wants to meet you" on Plenty of Fish. Obviously forgetting that he has a fiancee.

These three guys were guys I know from school. And all of a sudden I seem to be approachable, although we were friends at school I was a "no go area" because of my brother, simply because I must be desperate or want some fun as I've just got out of a long marriage.
"I always wanted to at school". Well actually, so did I but at the time I wasn't good enough and now.....now I'm only good enough to "have some fun with" and don't deserve respect or anything else.
I'll just be this hidden secret.

And it wasn't respect that I didn't deserve. It was these men, these people who I would/could have considered friends. It's them who don't deserve respect, or friendship.

I all of a sudden felt like I was this honeytrap. Although a silent one. And maybe that's why they approached me. Because I'm not the type to go and run and tell their partners what they're doing. Let's face it, more often than not the woman gets blamed...especially when she is single...so I wouldn't have been believed anyway. But I don't want to split up relationships. I don't want that responsibility.
I can take a flirt. I don't think there is anything wrong with an innocent flirt with anyone, whether or not they or I am in a relationship, but when that flirt becomes serious, and is taken a step further and becomes suggestive, then it needs to stop.

It's hard though to not feel hurt at not being worth more than this woman who men just want to "have fun" with.
Being a secret...that's not fun.
Feeling like you are not worth anything more...that's not fun.
One day maybe my relationship status will change for the better. "In a relationship" or even "seeing someone".

For now, "single" I can cope with.
But "honeytrap"...I can't.


18.7.16

Life Cleanse

When I look at my life at the moment I see it as a lots of tangled pieces and I'm constantly trying to untangle them. To work out what belongs where, what is even needed anymore.

A while ago I wrote a list on my phone of changes I need to make in my life to make it easier and to make me a better person.
That list has sat there for so long, every now and then I look at it and think "right, now I need to put this into practise" and then....I forget about it and go back to my old ways.

I think I've hit this place right now where I need to do something. I need to make changes in my life, I need to simplify things I do, ways I act, my diet, people I have in my life and what I choose to do with my time.

I'm calling this my....

Friendships

Since working I have realised that I try far too hard to impress people. I can be so desperate to be liked and to be a part of things that I give my all and end up looking silly.
I always feel like I need to impress people, like I have to prove myself. I think dating has even shown this to be true as it is what you constantly have to be like. 
I need to realise that people will like me for me or not like me at all. I don't need to put pressure on myself to make people like me, or to try and impress people and chase them for their friendships. 


Meditate

Whenever we have time and whenever possible my mum and I go to a spiritual group. There is a lot of talk their about meditation and I have got a couple of books to look into it.
I think when it comes to my mental health this would be ideal. I've always found a moment to control my breathing and to focus my thoughts works really well and I think being able to set a regular time to do this in my day to day routine (pah! as if I have a routine!) is exactly what I need to balance my mind.


Diet

I have annoyed myself when it comes to my diet, mainly because of how well I did losing 4 stone two years ago. Since then I have remained at the same weight and I know that if I'd continued I would be at that place where I am super happy with my weight and size. 
I want to get back on board with my healthy eating, and as I only have to cook for myself half of the week when the boys are at their dads it should be easy.


Make time

I stopped focusing on myself and my loves a while ago. I became lazy and lost my drive. I need to make time for things I love. My blog, photography, going for walks. Things that make me me instead of going to bed early because it's the easiest option when I am by myself. 
This is one of the biggest things for me I think because it would make my life so much better. I'd be healthier, my blog wouldn't suffer so much and I wouldn't feel so stressed about that and it would give me more to focus my mind on.
With the summer holidays coming up I'm hoping this will be the best time for me to really take a step back from being lazy and to really get out there and do things with the boys and to be the best mummy and person I can be again. 


Clutter

When I moved house I was so strict about chucking away items I didn't need anymore. We seemed to be hoarders (my ex more than me) and so I was proud to move in with not as much junk as I would have previously.
I love nick nacks, candles in particular, and notebooks and tend to hoard little things like that. And although it isn't too bad (in my eyes!) I know that to others it can do. I want to get in the habit of rearranging my stuff a lot so I can go over what is really needed and what isn't. 
My house is quite open plan downstairs and as a result I want(ed) to keep it clean and clutter free although so far thanks to the dining room table my landlady decided to not pick up despite various promises, I haven't been too great at doing the whole clutter free thing.
New plan, work around having the table permanently and find a home for everything. Be it on a shelf, in a cupboard or in the bin!

11.7.16

A sandwich vs a life #TT2016

It almost feels like a sense of relief when a race finishes and you can immediately leave and go back to your campsite or to your next chosen destination without any issues.
Last year it seemed that almost every day a race or two were cancelled due to red flags.
Depending on whether or not you are inside the circuit or on the outside it can mean a long wait whilst emergency services are on scene and depending on the seriousness of the incident.

This year, it didn't seem to be too bad. It's almost inevitable that there will be deaths, accidents tend to be regular but deaths are the ones that really do shock you.
The first race day, Saturday, we watched from the mountain. A brilliant location, a challenge for me to walk across a high bridge when I am incredibly afraid of heights, a nice sunny day, good company and a good picnic. The first race made even better by the fact that Michael Dunlop won!
The sidecars came on for their race and then we noticed the road was quiet, which only means one thing.
Listening to the radio and keeping up with the Twitter feed we knew there had been a fatality.
After a delay the race restarted and then came the practice session. We'd moved from one side of the road to the other and as we settled down to watch we realised that not many of the bikes had gone past when the road went quiet again.
People started to leave, walking back to their bikes and again, we knew this was another red flag.
The atmosphere changes. It's strange.
It does from buzzing, excitement to one of "shit just got real" and this other weird feeling of....I'm not even sure of how to describe it. Panic isn't the right word, and neither is fear but the feeling is along the lines of both of those.

Depending on where you are on the circuit you are stuck, and that feeling of limbo, of not knowing what has happened, how long you will be stuck somewhere makes you feel unsafe.
We got on the bikes and headed to a pub. The road was blocked with people wanting to go both ways, frustration mounted as the Marshalls stood around chatting rather than sorting out the traffic and masses of people and vehicles crowded into this one area.
The best thing was that despite the limbo, the not knowing what had happened, who to, or how many people were involved, was that sense of community.
Everyone does rally round and you make friends and chat with people who you wouldn't have met otherwise.
Your mind is distracted by what has happened, not completely distracted. You can't remove the thoughts in your head of what, who, where and how?

It's not until people start moving again, and the barriers open that you become aware again that this situation and incident has now got to the point where someone has been saved...or hasn't been able to be saved.

We got on my brother bike and as he knows the island well we took a left. The road we wished to go down was closed so we rode over and spoke to one of the Marshalls blocking the road.
Asking advice on another way we could go we gently asked if it was a fatality.
She confirmed that it was. Telling us that she couldn't say much but it didn't look good our hearts dropped.
Knowing that not far down the road we were at the end of a man was there.
His race was up.
We didn't know who he was, or what had happened, but sadness immediately hit.

We noticed an old lady stood just in front of us talking aggressively to a policewoman.
When we asked the Marshall what that was about she told us how some of the locals were unhappy that they couldn't take their cars down to their houses for the time being. Instead being asked to park at the end of the road and walk the short journey to their house.
This old lady was moaning because of a loaf of bread.
A LOAF OF BREAD!

We were shocked.
I have never more wanted to jump off that bike and to go over to ask what on earth was going on in her head.

I get it. Some people won't be sympathetic towards the riders. They risk their lives and why should residents be stopped from going into their houses because someone risked their life and it went wrong.
It does make sense, in a way.

However, when that situation then occurs, it should be a shock to all and human nature should kick in. That moment when we accept that something went wrong.
Yes, they risk their lives but not with the hope or wish that it may go wrong.

And this ladies priorities. Totally wrong.
Totally.
Completely.
Wrong.
And selfish.
A loaf of bread. Something she could easily carry.
I remember my brother making a comment to the Marshall about us going and getting her butter and jam and whatever else she wanted from the shop to make herself a sandwich if she needed it that badly.
If the fact that a man, in danger, wasn't serious enough for her to rethink the important things in life.

A sandwich vs a life. 

Wishing the Marshall a good evening, telling her she was amazing and hoping that she didn't have to deal with many other woman like the one who stood there almost next to us, we then rode off back to the campsite.

We later found out that the rider had died.
The shock of that hit us hard as the day before my brother had stood and spoke to this rider.
Paul Shoesmith, the man that had arranged a lap of the circuit the following day in memory of another rider, and other people who have lost their lives on the island/due to the sport too.
And now...the lap would also be taking place in his honour.
My brother had spoken to him to make him aware that someone was selling dodgy tshirts, making money from the legacy lap. I was proud of my brother for that.

My Facebook status that night, once we knew what had happened and who to:


Downside to this sport. The road was closed and even though the atmosphere is still buzzing as we all patiently wait for it to reopen, there is that eerie feeling of knowing that someone may have lost their life. We road past the closed road and spoke to a marshall to see if the mountain road was open. She was lovely, and she told us that some of the residents were "irate" because they couldn't get their cars to their houses. For an hour or so they had to leave their cars on the side of a nearby road and walk to their houses. Big deal!!Not knowing if someone had lost their life or was seriously injured these peoples priorities were totally in the wrong place. We saw an old lady more worried about getting her loaf of bread home, and moaning to a police woman. I couldn't believe it. It made me so angry. These racers know the dangers, and yeah they put their lives at risk, but for god sake give them some respect if they do crash and let the emergency services etc do their job properly. Poor poor bloke.

He left behind a small family. He was an incredible man. 
And as I sat at that pub, not yet knowing who or what had happened, I knew already that I respected whoever it was more than I ever would an old lady whose priority in life was to be irate over a loaf of bread.
At that moment, I knew that I belonged in that community. 
I may not have a bike.
I may not ever be able to ride.
But in my heart, I am the same as the rest of them. 



#TT2016 The Video

When I went to the TT last year I regreted not taking as many photos and in particular not taking any videos.
This year I treated myself to a new camera, with the intention of using my DSLR for photos and my compact for videos. 
Annoyingly the battery life on my compact wasn't amazing so I didn't get quite as much footage as I'd hoped but I think I captured enough of the island and the racing to at least show why I love it so much.


10.7.16

Don't Tell Her

Don't tell her that she's beautiful.
She doesn't need to hear it.
Don't tell her all of her good points.
She doesn't need to hear them.
Don't tell her if you like what she is wearing that day. Or if her hair looks nice.
She doesn't need to hear it.
Don't tell her those things that first attracted you to her, those things that at first you mentioned a lot.
She doesn't need to hear them.
She doesn't need to be praised. To have someone make her feel like they want her in their life.
It's just her.
She doesn't matter.
Her feelings don't matter.
It doesn't matter if she feels hurt, or small, unimportant, or like her existence brings nothing to anyone's lives.
She builds herself up. She gives herself confidence.
She knows her good points and she lists them.
Loyal. Supportive. Trusting. Honest. Patient.
And slowly they become pointless. She questions them because no one else can see them.
No one else believes her.
She works hard to prove herself. In return not wanting much, just to have a little bit of comfort and just to be told she is good enough.
But she doesn't deserve that.
She puts everyone else first, she doesn't expect that in return. She has always felt that is one of her good traits.
Part of her good heart.
But it seems to go unnoticed.
Or to be unappreciated.
But if you do notice that, for goodness sake don't tell her.
She doesn't need to know.
She doesn't need to know that anyone see's the good in her.
It's only her after all.
She's used to it.